Can a mostly self-educated fitness guru and "personal trainer to the stars" become a pop business icon, selling his book alongside those written by Harvard M.B.A.s? Business publisher Amacom is betting that Jake Steinfeld, known to exercise fans as the guy behind the Body by Jake fitness line, will do it with his first business book: I've Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked, and They've Got Nothing on You!: Business Secrets from the Ultimate Street-Smart Entrepreneur. With a 100,000-copy first printing and a September release, the book is backed by an aggressive marketing strategy involving a contest on America Online with a $200,000 prize that the Fox News channel will promote over five months.
The September book, which offers tips based on Steinfeld's experience building his fitness empire and becoming a multimillionaire, is Amacom's lead title for fall, with a printing that's unusually large for the publisher, said Ed Reilly, president and CEO of Amacom's parent organization, the American Management Association.
The "Live Your Dream" contest on America Online's free Web site will begin in September, when contestants will submit proposals for the launch of a real-life business. Steinfled will appear on Fox News channel's morning show Fox & Friends to launch the contest and then to introduce the contest finalists. The winner, to be announced in February, will receive $200,000 in no-strings-attached start-up funds, thanks to Steinfeld, who says he is putting up the money because he wants to help someon else get a start, though it seems unlikely he'd do it without a book to promote. The winner will also receive 10 hours of flight time on a private plane, courtesy of Marquis Jet, and enrollment in a five-day AMA course for presidents and CEOs. Lions Gate Entertainment has bought the rights to the book for a possible reality TV show, though it hasn't yet sold it to a network.
Steinfeld is hoping that his visibility will help the book stand out in the business category. "Walking into a business section of Barnes & Noble is intimidating," he said. "What I hope to get across is, 'Hey, I know that dude!... If Jake did this, I can do it.' "
Seasoned business booksellers like Jack Covert of 800-CEO-READ are taking cautious notice. Covert plans to stock the book on his Web site, and said that it could be a dark horse in the business category: "I think there's always room for somebody who works to sell a book. We'll see."